Fell out of an arm-chair with an awful crash. Drawn by A. B. Frost. Wood engraving. For Part IV, "Tales": Chapter III, "Sentiment," in Dickens's Sketches by Boz Illustrative of Every-day Life and Every-Day People, page 213. Wood-engraving; 4 ⅛ by 5 3⁄16 inches (10.5 cm high by 13.3 cm wide), framed. In the Dingwall family suite at The Adelphi, the Miss Crumptons of Minerva House, Hammersmith, respond with alarm, but Cornelius Brook Dingwall, Esdq., a Member of Parliament, with curiosity suitable to a man both "haughty, solemn, and portentous" (213), to the accident that befalls his spoiled child.

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Bibliographical Information

The sketch which became "Sentiment" originally appeared in Bell's Weekly Magazine (2 June 1834). Collected, this story became the third of the "Tales"in Dickens's Sketches by Boz Illustrative of Every-day Life and Every-Day People (1836 and 1839), illustrated with copper-plate engraving by George Cruikshank. In the Household Edition (1876), Fred Barnard provided a half-page illustration, set in the self-important M. P.'s office with the two teachers from the finishing establishment for young ladies, paralleling Frost's illustration in the American Household Edition.

Passage Illustrated

Miss Crumpton murmured her acknowledgments to him (Muggs), and Cornelius proceeded.

"One of my principal reasons, Miss Crumpton, for parting with my daughter, is, that she has lately acquired some sentimental ideas, which it is most desirable to eradicate from her young mind." (Here the little innocent before noticed, fell out of an arm-chair with an awful crash.)

"Naughty boy!" said his mamma, who appeared more surprised at his taking the liberty of falling down, than at anything else; ‘I’ll ring the bell for James to take him away." [IV. "Tales," Chapter III, "Sentiment, p. 213]

Commentary: Mere Pratfalls

George Cruikshank's Sentiment — Theodosius introduced to the New Pupil from Sketches (1836).

The Miss Crumptons, a pair of middle-aged sisters who run a girls' school in the Borough of Hammersmith, receive a summons to the Adelphi rooms of Cornelius Brook Dingwall, Member of Parliament and county magistrate. The egotistical politician and his wife (depicted elaborately dressed in the height of mid-Victorian fashion Barnard's 1876 Household Edition illustration, but not within the frame of Frost's illustration) specifically want the spinster-teachers to cure their daughter, the adolescent Lavinia, of a "sentiment," that is, a misplaced romantic attachment. George Cruikshank's 1836 engraving for the story, Sentiment — Theodosius Introduced to the New Pupil, focusses on the incipient romance as Miss Maria Crumpton introduces her guest, Theodosius, to Lavinia, unaware that there is a prior relationship between the two. Fred Barnard in The dear little fellow, having recovered his animal spirits, was standing upon her most tender foot. (1876), in contrast, exploits the physical comedy afforded by Lavinia's young brother at the interview in Dingwall's study at the Adelphi.

One of those public nuisances, a spoiled child, was playing about the room, dressed after the most approved fashion — in a blue tunic with a black belt a quarter of a yard wide , fastened with an immense buckle — looking like a robber in a melodrama, seen through a diminishing glass. [213]

Relying heavily on Dickens's description of the child's costume, Frost takes a less elegant but more physical interpretation of the annoying child than his predecessors, placing the boy and the enormous chair in the foreground and relegating the adults to the background. Whereas Cruikshank, emphasizing the story's romanic thread, depicts the scene in which the separated young lovers meet at the Hammersmith girls' school, Barnard focusses readers' attentions on the comic interview between the self-important MP and the Misses Crumpton in the politician's fashionably furnished rooms at The Adelphi overlooking the Thames. Avoiding the background details, Frost has a far simpler focus because he overlooks the satire of the self-important politician and the incipient romance to invite readers to enjoy the pratfall of an annoying child who is determined to be seen, if not heard. Frost's depiction of the self-inflicted accident complements Dickens's verbal irony in describing Dingwall, Junior, as "The dear little fellow" and "his animal spirits" (213). To Frost little else in the scene matters.

The Relevant Illustration from the British Household Edition, 1876

Above: Fred Barnard's more lavish illustration for the story, in which he introduces all of the principals except the daughter, Lavinia: The dear little fellow, having recovered his animal spirits, was standing upon her most tender foot (1876).


Bentley, Nicholas, Michael Slater, and Nina Burgis. The Dickens: Index. Oxford: Oxford U. P., 1990.

Dickens, Charles. "Tales," Chapter 3, "Sentiment," Sketches by Boz. Illustrated by George Cruikshank. London: Chapman and Hall, 1839; rpt., 1890. Pp. 242-51.

Dickens, Charles. "Tales," Chapter 3, "Sentiment," Christmas Books and Sketches by Boz, Illustrative of Every-day Life and Every-day People. Illustrated by Sol Eytinge, Jr. The Diamond Edition. Boston: James R. Osgood, 1875 [rpt. of 1867 Ticknor & Fields edition]. Pp. 404-10.

Dickens, Charles. "Tales," Chapter 3, "Sentiment," Sketches by Boz. Illustrated by Fred Barnard. The Household Edition. London: Chapman and Hall, 1876. Pp. 126-28.

Dickens, Charles. "Tales," Chapter III, "Sentiment," Sketches by Boz. Illustrated by A. B. Frost. The Household Edition. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1877. Pp. 212-17.

Dickens, Charles. "Tales," Chapter 3, "Sentiment," Sketches by Boz. Illustrated by Harry Furniss. The Charles Dickens Library Edition. London: Educational Book Company, 1910. I, 311-22.

Last modified 23 June 2019